All About eComments
This article was written by Michaela González Montaner with critical input from fellow Irvine Watchdogs. It was updated July 13, 2020 with specific notes on how to eComment on Commission meetings as well as City Council meetings.
What’s An eComment?
eComments are a fast, easy way to express your thoughts on an item before City Council or a Commission. They are 500 characters responses to either a specific agenda item or agenda items labelled “Public Comment” which allow for comment on items not appearing on the agenda. They are short and you can only submit one per agenda item, so get ready to get to your point!
Pro-tip: 500 characters not enough? You can email your entire comment to firstname.lastname@example.org and reference the agenda item in the title and it will be provided to Council and added to the public record just like an eComment. (More on email next week!)
Why We Like Them
For people earlier on in their political engagement, they are a lower-barrier, fairly impersonal way to start engaging with city government. For those further along in their involvement, they are a great way to work through agendas, efficiently offering comment on a number of items. They are also very handy for community organizing. Drop a direct link to an eComment form into an email or tweet and you’re likely to have more supporters follow-through with a comment than if you asked them to send an email on their own.
How To Submit An eComment
- Note: The eComment pages will only list the name of the agenda item. For attachments and any background info about the agenda item you are commenting on, you will have to consult the actual agenda.
2. Scroll to the agenda item you’d like to comment on and click the “Comment” link found below and to the right of the item of interest.
- If you are making a general comment unrelated to any agenda item, scroll to the very end and submit your comment under “Public Comment”.
3. Complete the form. Some notes:
- The only required fields are First Name, Last Name, and your comment. Especially if you live in Irvine, we encourage you to sign your name and address to boost the resonance of your comment.
- The only information that appears in the minutes is your first and last name, your comment, your postal code, and whether you checked oppose, support, or neutral.
- All that said, you can absolutely remain anonymous. To do so, simply type “Anonymous” in the first and last name slots.
4. If you want to save a copy of your remarks, do so before you hit submit. Otherwise, you are ready to click the submit button.
5. For confirmation that your response is submitted, look for a green banner at the top of the screen once you hit the button.
That’s it for the actual submission. Read on for tips re: timing your submission and how to access it and others after the meeting.
When To Submit
You are encouraged to submit before 2 pm the day of the meeting, but the comments will be accepted up to and during the meeting. Here’s the difference your timing will make:
- Comments submitted before 2 pm are forwarded to Council/Comissioners via email and included in the papers provided to them with the meeting’s agenda.
- Comments submitted after 2 pm will not be circulated to Council/Commissioners before the meeting though they may be read aloud during the meeting.
- Due to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency, eComments can be submitted during the meeting. EComments received after public comment portion may not be read out loud but will still make it to the public record. If you are submitting an eComment during a meeting and cannot find the eComment link, it might be because the eComment system has already archived the meeting. If that is the case, you might have to look at “past meetings” — this link should help.
Pro-tip: Some people who watch the City Council meetings submit eComments during the meeting as a way to comment on or dispute remarks made during the meeting. To do so successfully, make sure to submit your comment online before Council/Commission turns to public comment.
Want To See What Your Fellow Residents Said?
After the meeting, track down the minutes to see your and other comments documented. Council and each commission make their minutes available on their own various webpages or via the “Irvine Quick Records Search“.
Coming Up Next
Annoyed our City Council rarely addresses or even seems to listen to eComments? There are other ways – like meetings, phone calls, emails, demonstrations, and more that you can lean on when you are looking for more of an impact. We will cover the basics and share some pro-tips on all of these in the coming weeks. That said, eComments are a quick and easy way to go on record for or against an item before Council.
Other Strategies Or Pro-Tips We Should Share With Irvine Watchdog Readers?
We are keen to hear what does and does not work for you, our readers, as you work to make your voice heard in Irvine. Do you have questions we can answer? Comment below or send us an email at email@example.com with the subject line “Get involved”. Your input will help fuel additional writing on this topic – so thanks in advance for taking the time to share with us.